Jim Siergey: Don’t Bogart That Bossa Nova

July 24th, 2015

“Don’t bogart that joint, my friend, pass it over to me.” was once a much repeated line. It’s from a song that was released in 1968 entitled Don’t Bogart Me by a band called The Fraternity of Man.

It was a popular novelty tune during those halcyon days of free love, high times and counter-cultural comradeship and has been covered by many other bands.

The term “bogart”, of course, refers to 1940s and ‘50s film icon Humphrey Bogart who spent a good deal of his screen time (and lifetime as he died at a rather young age from throat cancer) with a cigarette dangling from his lips. Thus, to “bogart” means to hog a joint i.e. a marijuana cigarette.

Back in the day, like-minded Mary Jane imbibers who, incidentally, were referred to as “heads” (nowadays they are called “stoners”. Obviously, participation in the cannabis experience was thought of as a much more intellectual experience back then) that wanted to partake of the mood and mind-altering herb would ritually gather together and position themselves in a circle (or a semblance of one).

One could call it a Tea Formation, heh-heh.

Traditionally, when the lit joint was passed from one partaker to another, the accepter would take a drag (or ‘toke” to use drug parlance) and pass it on to the awaiting hands of the next “head”. This person repeated the one-toke-pass-it-on action until the joint grew smaller and smaller, eventually becoming what is known in viper circles as a “roach”.

fraternityofmanWho can forget The Fraternity of Man?


There were various ways of holding a roach so that every last flake and seed could be smoked up (“Waste not, want not” was the motto of these children of depression-era parents).

There was the carefully choreographed method of passing the tiny burning ember by pressing it from one’s thumb onto the thumb of the partner who would then carefully hold it secure along with his forefinger and try to inhale the final puff without burning his lips (or mustache, beard or nose).   At times a folded over matchbook cover was used to house the roach. Hemostats, long-handled surgical tools resembling needle-nosed pliers, often came into play as well as specially designed store-bought “roach clips”.

But, back to “bogarting.”

As stated earlier, the traditional and communal way of sharing a joint was to take a toke and pass it on. However, sometimes there would appear in the group, a bogarter.

Humphrey Bogart Smoking Cigarette Humphrey bogarts…


This particular being would accept the passed joint in one hand, put it to his lips and take a long, slow drag. Holding the precious smoke deep in his lungs, he would then pass the joint, not to the waiting fingers of the person next to him (who was often faked out by this deke and unceremoniously left grasping air) but over to his other hand as he exhaled and then took another toke.

Then he would converse a bit, holding onto the joint, waving it about like it was a tie-dyed Arturo Toscanini’s glowing baton while others looked longingly at it, following its path with dilated pupils. He would than take yet another hit before finally surrendering it.

That was a true bogarter. Sometimes, even a quick fourth toke would be taken before the reefer, now much reduced in size, was relinquished.

This person turned the entire communal experience of sharing a smoke from a socialist-like undertaking into a capitalist venture. The bogarter increased the profits of his new found gain by taking in more than his comrades or, as he would see them, shareholders. The fraternity of man approach of equal allocation was reduced to a take-what-you-can-get-when-you-can-get-it-and-make-the-most-of-it occurrence.

I personally believe that this attitude is what led to the ensuing “Me Decade” of the 1970s and society has been going downhill ever since.

Take it from me…if you can.


Editor’s Note: Jim’s last post for The Third City was Short Story

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Jim Siergey: Short Story

July 19th, 2015

Every room,
every wall,

every plank of wood,
every creak on the staircase,

every smell in the kitchen,
every smudge on the bathroom mirror,

every cushion lump in the sofa,
every coat hanger in the closet,

every drip from the faucet,
every bit of all that was a mirage,

a fantasy,
nothing but gossamer smoke rings.


Just like Mr. Stevens said…


His memory was a lie.
There was no house.

There was no car.
There was no bridge.

There was no crash.
There was no pajamas-clad boy sitting in an inch of water in the bathtub.

There was no cut made by the edge of a venetian blind beneath his lower lip.
There was no ice cream either.

The pit was real, though.
It had high walls made of cement and it was a long way down.

At the bottom were seals.


Editor’s Note: Jim‘s last post for The Third City was The Early Worm…

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Chris Lamberti: Baseball First Half Wrap

July 19th, 2015

I’m way past deadline on a baseball post and Benny Jay has his briefs in a bunch as usual.

He reminded me that if I want to keep this gig as baseball correspondent for The Third City and all the fame and notoriety that goes with it—and not join the ranks of unemployed bloggers who were never employed to begin with—I must, from time to time, put fingertips to keyboard.

Problem is, I’m leaving the country to visit my wife’s family in Montenegro and I’m kind of pressed for time.

“I don’t care,” says Benny Jay, “c’est la vie.” Benny thinks Montenegro is in France.

OK well, I have about thirty minutes to write. So style and grammar be damned. Like a free fall from ten thousand feet without a parachute, here it is, your Chicago baseball first half report.

Kris Sale is awesum!!!

Alright, I mucked up that sentence on purpose to lower the bar for the rest of this post.

But I bet no one noticed. Because the greatness of Sox ace Chris Sale transcends bad writing.

At times during the first half of the season he was historically good, a strikeout machine calibrated to hum like the great Randy Johnson or Pedro Martinez.

White Sox pitching otherwise has been not too shabby. But the Sox are in last place at the break because of a failed theory.

Oakland’s Billy Beane had “Moneyball,” where he figured out that players who looked frumpy and walked a lot were undervalued.



eiffeltowerChris went to France to cover the White Sox…


Apparently the Sox think there is premium value in hitters who don’t hit for average, power, draw walks, or field. Because the Sox filled their roster with them. It’s a wonder why they have the worst offense and defense in baseball.

The trade deadline is approaching and with the team in the cellar a lot of people are asking “Who should the White Sox deal?”

Only a certifiable nut trades Chris Sale, who is maybe the best pitcher in baseball, young, underpaid, and under contract until 2020. Jose Abreu has value but is probably having a down year and so the Sox might be selling low. And does it makes sense for the worst hitting team in baseball to trade away their only decent hitter?

We could talk about trading other players like Jeff Samardzija, which would be a bummer because I just learned how to spell his name. Or another arm or bat who might have some value to a team in the hunt for a playoff spot. But what’s the point? The exercise is futile.

The Sox can’t be saved by any trade. What the team needs is a good old fashioned natural disaster. A wrath of God type event. For the good of humankind, a biblical flood needs to whisk away Sox players, Sox management, their owner, and their ballpark.

Then the Cubs would be all that remain. Ahhh the Cubs.

As a tormented Sox fan, I’m way jealous.


As Mr. Berry says, “c’est la vie!”


The Cubs are a great young ballclub in the mix for the playoffs. One of the bigger surprises in the first half is how good their pitching has been.

Of course, pitching is good all over baseball. What teams lack is hitting. The Cubs have young hitters in spades…and hearts, and diamonds, and clubbers like Rizzo, Soler, Bryant, and Schwarber.

Owner Tom Ricketts has been buying up half of Lakeview but at least he’s not costing taxpayers much. And unlike Sox ownership he didn’t eliminate competition for beer sales by tearing down the neighborhood, paving it over and charging for parking.

I have to admit that a few weeks ago I did something I’ve never done in four decades as a White Sox fan: I watched a Cubs game on TV while the Sox were on at the same time.

The Cubs were playing the Dodgers and Zack Greinke was on the bump. The same Zack Greinke who started the All-Star game for the National League and is enjoying another fantastic season.

The White Sox had lost 9 of 11 and I was desperate for some real baseball the way that the sport’s fake inventor Abner Doubleday had imagined it, in between ordering Union musket volleys at Gettysburg.

I watched 8 innings of sharp no-run ball that night before I went to bed satisfied (the Cubs eventually won 1-0 in 10) but convinced that it must be me.

Because down the dial the Sox had finally broken out and scored 6 runs. It was the first time in three weeks that six White Sox batters had crossed home plate.

It was an offensive explosion and I missed it.

As Benny Jay’s French Montenegrins say, “c’est la vie.”


Editor’s Note: Chris‘ last post for The Third City was Happiness is a Warm Run…

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Jim Siergey: The Early Worm Gets The Bird

July 12th, 2015

My day began earlier than usual. I got out of bed a bit after 5:00 still bedeviled by the same headache that sent me to bed earlier than usual the night before.

I thought that moving around might get the blood flowing and while sloshing about might push the headache overboard. I went to the kitchen, heated up a half cupful of left over coffee while I brewed a new pot and shuffled to the living room where I plopped onto the couch and flicked on the teevee.

To my pleasant surprise I discovered that The Cisco Kid is aired at 5:30 in the morning. So, through unfocused eyes I watched O. Henry’s Mexican western hero (portrayed by a Romanian-born actor) cavort onscreen as I slurped java both old and new until I felt steady enough to check my electronic data…email and Facebook.

On the latter, I found an article about the story behind Janis Joplin’s recording of “Mercedes Benz”, the ditty that she sang A Capella (or “Acapulco” as she reputedly pronounced it) that was also the last song she ever recorded, just three days before she died of a heroin overdose on my birthday in 1970.

ciscokidThe Cisco Kid was a friend of mine…


It was an interesting read and it invigorated me enough to take a shower. While lathering, rinsing and repeating, I tried to recollect the lyrics to the aforementioned tune. I hadn’t heard it for a long time but I found I could easily remember the first stanza. The third stanza soon came back to me as well. It took until I had toweled off before I could recall the rest of the lyrics to the second stanza, the one about the color TV.

I had had enough of my singing of the song so I felt like listening to Janis’ version. I have the LP that song is on but it would entail a search and then the record player would need to be cleared off and plugged in so, after dressing and pouring another mug of ol’ black joe, I used the modern, efficient way of listening to music—I looked it up on You Tube.

The song was easy to find. It’s good, it’s raw, it’s…Janis. The video of the version I found also displayed a nice panoply of Janis images.

Behind the Scenes Confession: I wanted to use the word ‘panoply’ but to make sure it meant what I thought it did I looked up the definition. While doing so, the word reminded me of The Honeymooners episode where Ed Norton pronounced ‘polo ponies’ as one word — ‘poloponies’. After checking the definition, I returned to this post and proceeded to type out the word ‘palopony’.

Oh, Pancho. Oh, Cisco.


Editor’s Note: Jim’s last post for The Third City was A Saturday Evening Post…

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Jim Siergey: A Saturday Evening Post

July 6th, 2015

For a third of July day, it was very pleasant.  Partly sunny, temps in the seventies, blue sky.

I decided to take advantage of the pleasant afternoon.  I grabbed a book and went out to sit on the front porch bench to read al fresco.

As I sat there in the invigorating fresh air reading about the down and out condition of a man named Dobbs, I heard my next door neighbor coming up the steps to his porch. He made quite a bit of noise with his crinkly brown paper bag and tinkly keys so I felt obligated to turn in his direction and be sociable.

Michael was looking at me and smiling. We exchanged hellos and comments about the weather.

“You look very comfortable there,” he said.

Feeling slightly embarrassed, I could think of nothing to say so I simply smiled and shrugged.

“The whole scene looks like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting,” he added.

Immediately, images of Thanksgiving dinner, children on ice cream shop stools, cops on the beat and umpires huddled under an umbrella swirled through my mind like a kaleidoscopic whirlwind.


Mr. Steadman’s finest…


At a loss for words, I found myself uttering, “Feel free to bring out your watercolors and brushes and have at it.”

“I don’t think I could find an easel,” Michael rejoined as he entered his home. “I’ll just let it be. Have a good day.”

I looked back at my book but I read nothing. Instead I mused.

I mused about a grizzled old man in worn-out blue jeans and faded Tshirt sitting on a bench swing that looks like it’s a xylophone painted by Rene Magritte (at least, that was my intention) resting atop a porch that itself is badly in need of paint holding a hardbound copy of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre in his hands being a tableau for a modern day Norman Rockwell painting.

Is that what I’ve become?

It doesn’t seem like that long ago when my tableau would have befitted a Ralph Steadman painting.  But it has.

All things must pass, thank goodness.


Editor’s Note: Jim‘s last post for The Third City was Summer in the Park With Sly…

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Jim Siergey: Summer In The Park With Sly

June 27th, 2015

It was the summer of 1970.  Peace and love was in the air.  Hatred of hippies and police brutality was in the streets. But in the park, Grant Park to be precise, a free concert was to take place.

And not just a free concert, a free concert performed by Sly and the Family Stone.

They were an integrated, multi-gender group from San Francisco that played funk, soul and psychedelic music.

They had a string of hit songs such as Everyday People, an anti-prejudice anthem that contained the still popular line “different strokes for different folks.

They had Stand!, Dance to the Music, Sing a Simple Song and the tune that skyrocketed them to everlasting fame at the Woodstock music festival the previous summer, I Want to Take You Higher.

They were cool with a capital K and all of us with-it cats and kittens were heading downtown to Grant Park to groove on what they’d be laying down.

It was a hot, sunny day in Chicago as Cindy and I approached the entrance to Grant Park when we heard her name called out.

It was the voice of Tim, a friend of Cindy’s and her brother’s—the same guy, along with her bro, that we never met up with at Woodstock due to the size of the crowd and the non-existence of cell phones.

(This was the first time I ever met Tim.  The next time I was to meet him was with a bunch of people sitting inside a parachute on a living room floor. A year or two later we became close friends and remain so to this very day.)

On this day, however, he and a few other cohorts were loitering outside Grant Park waiting for Cindy’s brother to show up.  Cindy and I said our hellos, shared a few syllables and continued on into the park.

We weren’t among the throng for very long before we could sense the “bad vibes.” One could just feel that something bad was going to go down. It was visceral.

slystone“If you want me to stay, I’ll be around today…”


Besides the required amount of hippies, there was also a gang presence.  Rough-looking guys walking around holding empty cigarette papers in their hands, “asking”, “Who can fill this up for me?”

Occasionally, we’d see a bottle or can or some other missile fly above the ever-growing crowd.  No sense of peace and love was pervading the air that was becoming even more hot and humid .  The fact that Sly and the Family Stone was very, very late didn’t help matters.  Plus, if I remember correctly, there was no other musical act playing which could have helped placate the anxious and edgy horde.

Heeding our “bad vibrations,” Cindy and I decided to hit the fringe.  We crossed the street and looked onto Grant Park from there.  Our timing was nothing short of perfect.

Very soon after we attained our perch of safety, we saw clouds of tear gas going off in the park followed by the familiar site of blue-shirted and helmeted police with raised batons moving in. This is when we decided to vacate the premises, as nonchalantly as we could..

We learned later that Cindy’s brother, fresh off of work and clad in shirt and tie, arrived in the park just as all hell broke loose.  Besides getting teargassed, a “pig” (as the police were not-so-affectionately called back then) grabbed him by his tie and clubbed him about the head and shoulders.

There were no more concerts in Grant Park for quite some time after that.

By the way, Sly never did show up but in 1971 he put out an album entitled There’s a Riot Goin’ On.


Editor’s Note: Jim‘s last post for The Third City was The Door

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Chris Lamberti: Happiness Is A Warm Run

June 21st, 2015

Let me start with a hypothetical. Can the White Sox score fewer runs?

 An answer grounded in some kind of material reality is “It’d be hard.”

But I’m more of an existentialist. So I ask, what is a run?

A run for the White Sox is a thing that brings illumination to every corner of my soul.

With runs, I feel joy. Without runs, emptiness.

Consider the parallels. When a car is empty it runs no more.

An empty dishwasher makes no sense to run.

Or I took a laxative before my procedure. Then I had the runs until my innards were empty.

Can the White Sox score fewer runs?

I might rephrase the question: Can I be more empty?

It’d be hard.



When it comes to runs, Cyndi Lauper would be an improvement over…


The emptiness caused by few runs has brought great imbalance to the universe.

The weather has been crappy. I blame Adam Eaton.

I have a summer cold. I blame Melky Cabrera.

My wife left me. I blame Robin Ventura.

My wife didn’t actually leave me and now she’s pissed at me for writing that. I blame Rick Hahn.

Great poets throughout history have been preoccupied with runs.

Bruce Springsteen was born to run.

John Lennon wrote: Happiness is a warm run. I think.

Cyndi Lauper penned: Girls just want to have runs. But don’t quote me on that.

I search the universe for answers. But few runs is a great unknown…

Adam LaRoche, why so few runs?

“I don’t know.”



adamlarocheAdam LaRoche…


Alexei Ramirez, why no runs?

“No habla.”

Sorry. Alexei Ramirez por qué no runs?

“No sé.”


Chris Sale, why no runs?

“I don’t know. But I am awesome.”


But without runs all seems lost. Is there hope?

Can I bring myself to believe that the White Sox will score runs, make me whole again, and restore balance to the universe?

It’d be hard.


Editor’s Note: Chris’ last post for The Third City was Only One Man Can Save the White Sox




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